New Faces 2020: Whitney Mahoney

Whitney Mahoney may be out of her element, but her goals—to help students reach their full potential—have remained the same.

Mahoney left her job as special education teacher at Waikiki Elementary School to join Kaiser as a vice principal. Mahoney had to trade out her “elementary teaching mindset” for a high school one, no easy task considering she had been reinforcing it for twelve years. Getting to know her new coworkers was also daunting, since “all of [her] colleagues have masks on,” she said. But with the support of Mahoney’s colleagues and a “transition  program,”integrating into Kaiser has been easier than expected. Some of her old skills even proved to be advantageous—Mahoney used to help organize functions and events at Waikiki Elementary, so she’s already developed leadership skills. Her previous work with students  also helped her realize how each student learns differently, and has different abilities. This made taking on the role of vice principal less difficult as collaborating with students and handling unique situations is crucial for the job.

All the work put into the switch is worthwhile to Mahoney, as she’s more able to accomplish her mission. Working in administration gives her “more opportunities to help students reach their goals,” she said. As vice principal, Mahoney works with counselors to help students, and since students aren’t at school, she can do the same with her coworkers. In fact, one of the best parts of her job right now is being able to see the campus every day. Mahoney, though, looks forward to the day the students return to restore life to the school.

Being a vice principal hasn’t taken up all of Mahoney’s time. She enjoys playing sports in her spare time, especially baseball. Plus, Mahoney has a one year old puppy who keeps her active. Mahoney also finds joy in cooking; being a chef was her childhood dream job (although her current occupation isn’t a disappointment). Mahoney used to live in California, and  she makes annual trips to visit her family there and in Texas. However, she’s unable to travel this year due to COVID-19, and looks forward to a safer time .

Mahoney believes the most useful ability right now is cooperation. It’s everyone’s “first time having to live through these stressful conditions, and we need to work through it together,” she said. Students should be able to seek help, and “not be afraid to ask teachers questions,” she said. While we all juggle our work and make it through the year, Mahoney says it’s essential to “never give up.”

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